Category Archives: anxious

What Will You Risk For The First Time This Week?

I thought I was good at it.

Taking risks, I mean. I’ve certainly faced some fears (see my This Is Me page) and taking risks? Not a problem. Except this week…

The fear of an event is nearly always worse than the actuality, so I’ve read. I believe it’s true but I have to force myself to act on it sometimes.

I remember the waterfall in the Lake District.

We'll have to turn back

The roar of the torrent, the spray everywhere, the sheer height. I was overawed by it but somehow we had to cross over to the other side or else turn back.  I stood and stared, fear fluttering in my chest. 

As I stood there getting more and more scared, my attention was caught by a child in a red jacket, and his dog. He was running along, in front of his dad, clambering up the grassy path towards me, heading for the edge of the water fall. Then he disappeared from view and I assumed the path cotinued through the gorse bushes at the side.

I was still wondering whether we should turn back and take a different track, when there he was, on the other side of the waterfall, his red coat zig-zagging away and his dog following.

His dad was close by where I stood.

‘He’s crossed over! How on earth has he done it? Surely it’s too risky!’

He smiled.

‘We often come this way. If you go round the corner you’ll see the stepping stones! They’re slippery but it’s OK to cross if you take care!’

This week I’m taking a ‘risk’ with my blog.

I’ve decided to update this site and move on to the next stage of blogging.

Here’s how it’s going so far:

  • I decided I want to make the change.

Making the decision to make any change is often the easiest part. It’s only in your mind at this stage. No risk yet.

Writing it down can make it more real, so long as you don’t tell anyone, then you can still ‘turn round and go back’.

I did exactly this: I wrote down my plans to up-grade, but kept it to myself.

  • You seek support

If you’re scared to take the risk by yourself, look for someone to guide you.

Want to change career? Travel alone? Learn to ski? Write a novel? Talk to those who’ve’ been there, done it and got the t-shirt.’  I love this Danish Proverb: ‘He knows the water best who has waded in it.’

I did exactly this: One of my blogging friends, Arvind Devalia has indeed ‘been there, done it…’ and he is a consultant in this area. He will guide me through the whole process and I need have no fear.

  • What if?

Yes! I said it.

What if… I can’t manage the change?

OK, but what if I can, with Arvind’s expert help?

There’s always another way, just like the stepping stones that were hidden from our view that day. When we want to make a change or take a risk, it seems scary at first. But once you’ve thought it through, decided, and found support you’ll be so glad you did.

And, by the way, the view from the other side of the waterfall was stunning…

‘Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.’

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Now it’s your turn.

What will you risk for the first time, this week ?

Header image by cursedthing, post image by 

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I Have Something To Confess, How About You?

I hate cooking!

I sat down in my steaming hot kitchen, put my head in my hands and cried.

My face was flaming, there was ‘stuff’ on every work surface, recipe books were smeared with flour, the oven was working away, dishes were piled up, dirty pans that won’t go in the dish washer waited,  and I was in despair.

We were giving a ‘dinner party’ for  six guests (I know, not exactly a crowd) and I’d been running round in circles since early morning. I thought I’d been looking forward to it. I’d written my lists, done the shopping, even  laid the table. But the fact remained – I was in tears.

Apparently I’m not alone.  A recent press survey reported that many of us find the whole dinner party thing more stressful than seeing the bank manager or commuting to work!

So what’s the problem?

Here’s my Positive Spin.

  • I don’t like being ‘judged’.

There are so many cookery shows on TV and it looks so easy! They’re run by real chefs, all with years of training and experience,  owning  successful restaurants. Of course their meals are amazing. That’s what their diners expect! Of course I can’t match their expertise. But somehow, when I have friends around for dinner, because I’m not a natural cook, I feel judged.

  • I don’t want to ‘fail’.

I feel embarrassed if my roast potatoes aren’t perfect, my sauce has lumps (surely not!) or the steaks are over/undercooked. I worry that my menu won’t live up to expectations.

  • I feel out of my depth.

At the last dinner party I went to there were three desserts.  I just can’t compete!  What will they say if I only produce one! I don’t know how to make filo pastry by hand, unlike my talented friend. I’ve not mastered the art of home-made ice cream or perfect cheesecake.

And so it goes on.

So! What can I do about it?

  • I need to get ‘real’.

Sharing a meal is a way to get together and enjoy one another’s company. If cooking for a dinner party puts me out of my depth then I need to be very brave and say, ‘ We’d love to see you for dinner. I’m not too confident about cooking so we’d like to take you out instead.’

It doesn’t have to cost a fortune, there are plenty of great pubs in the UK that serve moderately priced meals and even more choices in the US.

  • I can cheat!

There’s an amazing array of food out there, ready cooked. Indian food is especially plentiful and not expensive. I’ve found fantastic savoury pies, casseroles and pasta dishes on sale in some butchers’ shops, along with fruit pies, crumbles and mousse. Sometimes I buy the main course but make the dessert. Or I make a really easy but tasty and interesting starter.

I always tell my friends that I cheated and they don’t turn a hair. At least, not so far as I can tell. It’s their company that’s the most important part of the evening.

  • I must live in the real world.

Everyone has skills. Everyone. Not everyone is an expert cook, home decorator,  dress-maker…. whatever. It’s time  to stop stressing about it and simply confess that I don’t enjoy trying to cook restaurant style food for guests. It’s silly to pretend otherwise.

There! That feels better…

How about you?

Is there anything you need to confess? Go on, you know you want to…

You’ll feel so much better if you do!

Header image by cursedthing, post pic by lisaclarke, on Flickr.

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Today I Met an Invisible Man

He was standing by the supermarket entrance.

Most people hurried past, lists in their hands, trolleys leading the way. It was pouring down and soggy umbrellas dripped everywhere, making the trolleys wet. Time to stop for a few minutes to buy a poppy?  For most, no time to even look up.  Just needed to get the shopping, get home and get dry. End of.

I watched from a distance, under the shelter of my umbrella. The rainy day didn’t bother him one bit. He was far stronger than that. A drop of rain was nothing. Not when you’ve been out in freezing temperatures, in the Arctic, protecting the cargo ships taking vital supplies to the Russians on the Eastern Front.

 
The Russians were our allies and desperately needed fuel, tanks, planes and ammunition. Those Russian Convoys were desperately needed. Which is why the Germans did all in their power to bombard them and sink the ships.

No-one could survive in those icy, mountainous seas.  A minute or two in the water and they’d die of cold. No point in looking for survivors. Had to leave them behind and sail on.

No, a drop of rain was no problem for this immaculate veteran, with his medals proudly displayed. I asked him about the medals and he told me he was in the Russian Convoy Club.

‘You’re too young to have heard of it’, he grinned.

I grinned back.

‘Do tell me about it’, I asked.

And that’s how I met an invisible man.

And heard his story, while some people stopped to buy a poppy from him but most walked by. Perhaps they’d already bought one. 

I’m glad I had the privilege of meeting this proud man and hearing about his young self who braved the Arctic ice with his comrades, 3,000 of whom never returned.

As I drank my coffee in the coffee shop, I gazed around at  the other customers. Some of them were elderly. What would their story be? How was it for them in World War Two?

It’s easy to dismiss the old and frail with not even a glance. But they weren’t always old and frail. They were the same as us once, and they all have a worthwhile story to tell, if only we’d take the time to listen. They deserve our respect and our thanks.

Who will you remember, tomorrow, on Armistice Day?

  • I’ll think of my friend who never knew her father. He was killed before she was born. Every year her mother proudly attended a Remembrance service. She never re-married.
  • I’ll think of my own father, who repaired the gliders that carried men to France to parachute silently into occupied  territory. Thankfully, he survived the war.
  • I’ll  think about Afghanistan and the seemingly endless killing. I’ll think about the innocent children in that country who are addicted to drugs because it’s cheaper for their families to buy drugs than to buy food, now that their bread-winner  has been killed.

But this year I shall also think about the invisible man I met on a rainy day outside the supermarket.

Who will you think of.

Header image by cursed thing, post image by US Geological Society, on Flickr

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How To Say ‘Yes’ To Saying No… (As Requested Last Week)

from giarose on Flickr

You know you want to.                         

It’s hard.                                                       

You worry you’ll upset them.                  

You want them to go on liking you.      

You feel guilty.                                               

You ought to say yes…                               

But you want to say no

Saying no is a dilemma for everyone.
No-one wants to rock the boat.
But there comes a time when you’ve had enough …
On Friday I asked you to tell me what you’d like to read about on this blog.
Carsma said she wanted to read about
‘How to say ‘no’ and mean it’.
This week’s  posts are  for her, but you can read them too!
 
Here’s my Positive Spin on…
 
How To Say Yes To Saying No.
 
Step one… Start slowly, with simple, non-threatening situations.
 
If you’re a passive/compliant/non-assertive person, it’s hard to suddenly change.
So start slowly.
It’s like  learning any new skill, you need to practise.
Remember when you learnt to play the recorder/piano/violin/guitar?
  • At first it wasn’t easy.
  • You made loads of mistakes.
  • You wondered whether you’d ever ‘get it’.
  • Sometimes you wanted to give up.
  • Then, next day, you started practising again.

But the key was:

You were motivated.

You wanted to ‘get it’.

And it’s the same with learning to say no.

Think of situations where you want to say no but it’s not that important if you cave in.

You could…

  • say no (with a smile) to the girl in the perfume department trying to sell you a new fragrance
  • say no (with a smile down the phone) to a casual coffee invitation but suggest an alternative date to meet
  • say no (with a smile) when your hairdresser offers you conditioner but you’d rather not have it
  • say no (with a smile) when your friend invites you to the cinema but it’s not a film you want to see
  • say no (with a smile) when your mother asks if she can come shopping with you but you’ve planned a rare and precious day to yourself

These may seem trivial examples but they have the same purpose as practising your scales for the piano: they prepare you for the more important no’s later on.

Take every opportunity to practise.

See how many no’s you can fit in before you come back to read about step two on Wednesday!

Meanwhile, please tell us in the comments, about the times you have found to practise and what you said no to.

I’ll do it too!

I’ll start my list right now. I’ll start by saying no to Mittens… she’s waiting by her bowl.

On the other hand… how can I say no to her!

 

 Header image by cursedthing on Flickr.

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How Failure Can Turn You Into A Happy Bunny (Part 3)

My stomach churns.  

I hardly dare look.  

She hands me the pages.  

Covered with red ink.  

‘It’s good so far’, she says. ‘But may I make a few suggestions?’  

No… it wasn’t my Maths homework. This happened about two weeks ago. It was the first draft of my book, edited by a professional editor.  

‘I’d like you to do some more research. It’ll add a lot to the book, but…. it’s your work, you must decide what’s best.’  

I was not a happy bunny.  

It felt exactly the same as having my Maths homework returned with loads of corrections to do.  

Let’s face it – my pride was hurt.  

Why wasn’t it OK as it was?  

Why did I have to do more research?  

Why wasn’t it a masterpiece already?  

   

Picture the scene two weeks later.  

I’d researched for hours on the net, added several thousand words, re-arranged some of the chapters, changed some titles and felt quietly confident with the result. In short –  

I was a happy bunny.  

I knew she was right...

 

No-one likes to be corrected. Not really.  

Especially as an adult.  

It’s hard to admit when we haven’t got it quite right and need to do more work.  

But failing to write the perfect ‘first draft’ of my book taught me a lesson.  

It also illustrated the last two of my…  

6 Reasons That Failure Is Good For You.  

5.   ‘Failure’ shows you how you can, and should, improve.  

      Just when you think you’ve got it right, perhaps you haven’t.  Perhaps you ‘could do better’.  

6.   Failure shows you that nothing achieved easily brings satisfaction.  

I shall be so proud when I truly have finished and my editor tells me it’s ready for publication.  

    

Over to you!  

  • What have you worked extra hard on and finally completed with pride?
  • What have you failed at but secretly known you should have done more to succeed?
  • What has failure, in any sense, taught you?

All thoughts in the comments please!  

   

Header image by abyreed on Flickr.  

Rabbit photo by hans s on Flickr.  

   

 

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Filed under adjust, anxious, excuses,, expectation, failure, hope, persistence, plans, progress, realistic, success

I’ve Come Out Of The Closet – So Can You!

I’m standing at the entrance.  

I glance round, furtively, just in case…  

…just in case I see someone I know.  

I scuttle inside, avoiding all eye-contact.  

It’s my first time and I feel embarrassed.  

I’ve never been in a ‘Pound Shop’ before.  

Nothing on sale in here costs more than £1!  

Hey! It’s bound to be rubbish, not worth a look.  

But as I wander around I find all sorts. Well known branded goods, normally costing far more, not shop-soiled or damaged, all at £1.  

Very soon my basket fills up and I’m grinning to myself as I head for the checkout.  

I’ve learnt a valuable Life-lesson  and I’d like to share it with you.  

What makes us prejudiced about stuff?  

What are we afraid  of?  

Why are we afraid of it?  

from TakenByTina

 

Here’s a list of things I’ve been prejudiced about over the years.  

  • garden gnomes
  • opera
  • men wearing gold bracelets
  • Pound Shops
  • tattoos
  • multiple piercings
  • Lambrusco wine
  • men on loud motor bikes
  • crocs (the shoes, not the animal…)
  • coloured hair
  • casinos

I’m not proud of this list.  But I’ve come out of the closet and admitted my prejudices.  

I’m pleased to say I’ve left nearly all of them behind but I do wonder what causes them in the first place. I think it’s a combination of :  

  • ignorance of the true facts
  • snobbery
  • not wanting to stand out from the crowd
  • wanting to ‘fit in’
  • not wanting to be the only one who doesn’t agree
  • being too easily influenced by what others say
  • being too embarrassed to hold a different opinion

Arrogance – that’s what it is!  

Every one should be entitled to lead their lives without people like me showing their  prejudices. The more I think about it, the more ashamed I feel.  

Nowadays I try very hard to accept people for who they are, not according to their piercings or gold bracelets.  

Over to you!  

Do you have prejudices?  

Is that OK?  

Or not?  

And where did yours come from?  

We’d all love to hear your views.  

I think you know where to write them…!  

‘The mind is like a parachute. It works best when it’s open.’  

   

Header image courtesy of abbyreed on Flickr.

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Hey! Failure’s OK! (Part 2)

   

from Schlusselbein2007

 

‘I can’t do it!’  

‘I’ll never be able to.’  

‘I’m rubbish at writing.’  

Steven threw down his pencil.  

I could see how red his face was.  

Tears weren’t far away.  

Many years and no doubt many tears later I met his mum in a local restaurant.  

‘It’s so good to see you again!’ she beamed.  

I listened while she told me with great pride, that Steven had just passed his law degree. A ‘2.1’.  A huge achievement for a dyslexic student.  

I learnt a lesson that day, a lesson about failure.  

   

Last week I wrote about my first two reasons why Failure is Good For You.  

Here are the next two:  

   

Failure is good for you because:  

3.   It makes you stronger.  

Steven had a very hard time at school.  Every step along the way was a struggle. Until he discovered the truth that his dyslexia was not his fault. He simply needed to be taught in the way that he could learn.  As soon as he  believed in himself and his ability things began to go his way. His self-esteem grew. It was a slow process, but he got there. He was determined to succeed, he believed he could, and he did.  

4.   Failure opens your eyes to the real world.  

It seems to be the fashion in some of  our schools here in the UK, not to allow a child to ‘fail’ at the annual school sports day.  

There must be no winners or losers, just ‘participants’.  

How can that be right?  

As the child grows he will face many situations in which he has to compete. That’s real life. Surely it’s good to experience not coming first while still young and to learn that,  

Hey! Failure’s OK!   

Why do we want to protect our children from the real world?  

We do them no favours.  

They need to grow stronger and a little failure from time to time will help them, in my view.  

   

So… over to you:  

  • Has failure made you stronger in any way?
  • Has failure opened your eyes to anything in the real world?

Do add your comments… you know what to do… 

Header image by abbyreed, on Flickr

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Filed under action, adjust, anxious, dyslexia, expectation, failure, goals, hope, persistence, plans, positive, progress, realistic, success